I was thinking this weekend how entwined music and writing actually are. Songs tell stories just like books do – they have to squeeze them into three or four minutes and they often rely on emotion to convey the story in such a small space of time. Heartbreak, love, anger, pain – it’s all poured out so we can feel the song the way they want us to. We can learn from songs in our writing – although we have far more words at our disposal to tell our story, we should not ignore the part emotion plays in getting a story across. We should want our readers to feel the same way a songwriter wants them to feel.
I usually listen to music when I’m writing. I know a lot of writers do. Mainly so we’re not stuck in silence all day but for me it does help put me in a good place to write. It helps to listen to music that conveys the emotion I want my story to. It also gets me thinking about the characters in my story - what music would they be listening to? How would music make them feel? In the same way, films use music to add emotion to a scene, I sometimes imagine what song would be playing at a particular moment in a story. It helps to picture the scene and draw out as much emotion as possible.
I read a lot of books that mention songs or use music to help get emotion across to the reader. Some writers include playlists on their websites so we can listen to what they heard when they were writing. I would definitely consider doing that. Stephenie Meyer was probably the first to really show how music inspired her writing . I enjoy discovering the soundtracks to books I’ve enjoyed in the same way as I enjoy the music in films – it brings the story to life.
I also think writing young adults means music plays an even bigger role than in adult books. Music played a imporant role in my teenage years. Even now, when I hear a song I loved when I was younger, it takes me back to that time. Music is even more accessible today for teens, with iPods permanently implanted in their ears. We just need to make sure we don’t impose our taste on them if we include music in our writing
I love it when I hear a song that connects to my story now. That makes me feel. That seems to say what I’m thinking. And I love it more when I’m surprised by it. I heard a Pixie Lott song the other day and the lyrics stood out instantly. They seemed to be singing my story. It was strange to connect to Pixie as we are world’s apart in many ways (although we do share a first name!) but that’s what I love so much about music. It brings different people together all the time. Just look around you when you go to a concert.
So close but it’s still so far
I figured out what’s in my heart
I took a step out of the dark
Now I’m on my way
And I pray somehow something’s gonna change
A lot of songs inspire me and I’d love to be able to that with my writing one day. I think songs and books have a way of sharing stories in an inspiring and emotive way and I’m sure music will guide my writing for a long time to come.
I’ll leave you with the Pixie Lott song in full – Bright Lights (part 2):
Does music play role in your writing?